Date of this Version
The purpose of the study was to examine differential tuition by undergraduate major at 165 public research universities. The study focused on: the emergence and prevalence of this type of differential tuition; the programs or majors for which differential tuition existed and the amount of the differential; the dates the differentials were considered or implemented; the reasons for implementing or not implementing; the impacts of the adoption and implementation of differential tuition; and how the incremental revenues were used. The study was a descriptive study using the pragmatic mixed-method approach which included a survey instrument completed by chief business officers, a review of institutional websites, and interviews with selected chief business officers to describe the practice of differential tuition by undergraduate program or major at public research institutions.
There were 74 institutions, or 45% which had differential tuition for 17 undergraduate programs. The differential for non-medical related programs ranged from $2 to $1,896 per term and from $2 to $194 per credit hour. The average rate of differential tuition by undergraduate program was 10.8% of resident undergraduate tuition. The most prevalent programs with differential tuition by undergraduate program were Business and Engineering, followed by Architecture, Education, Sciences, Other, Fine Arts, Health Related, Computer Science, Journalism, Honors, Agriculture, and Liberal Arts. Plus the medical related programs of Nursing, Pharmacology, Dental Hygiene, and Physical Therapy. Between 2003 and 2008, 25 institutions implemented, and 26 considered but did not implement, differential tuition. The reasons for implementing or not implementing centered on the issues of revenue and access. There were two differing views on the impact of differential tuition by undergraduate program on the choice of major by undergraduate students. This divergence of opinion suggests further study to determine the impact of choice of major by undergraduate students. Public research institutions were studied; further research is needed on the prevalence of this type of differential at the other sectors of public college and universities.
Adviser: Alan Seagren